From http://www.balidiscovery.com/messages/message.asp?Id=4225

Putting Our Tourism House in Order
Leading Expert Examines Why Indonesia Continues to Get Less than its Share of the Tourism Pie.

(1/5/2008) The former Executive Director of the Indonesian Promotion Board and a frequent contributor to balidiscovery.com, Wuryastuti Sunario, wrote the following article that appeared in the December 17, 2006 edition of Media Indonesia..

It must be admitted that Indonesia, despite its rich variety of cultural and natural assets, is increasingly the loser in the competition for tourism arrivals among other ASEAN countries when compared to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

In 1999, Indonesia attracted around 5 million foreign tourists or 14% of all tourism arrivals to ASEAN. Meanwhile Singapore garnered 21%, Malaysia 24% and Thailand 26%. Seven years later in 2006, Indonesia's share of all ASEAN arrivals has dropped to 8.6% while Singapore earned a 17.1% share and Thailand 24.4%. Meanwhile, Malaysian arrivals had lept to a 31% market-share, making it the biggest tourism contributor in ASEAN. Total foreign tourists to Indonesia in 2006 totaled 4.8 million compared to 9.7 million arrivals to Singapore, 13.8 to Thailand and 17.5 million to Malaysia.

To remedy this, Indonesia hopes to bring 7 million foreign visitors to Indonesia in "Visit Indonesia Year 2008" and 6 million visitors in 2007.

In Presidential Instruction No. 16 of 2005, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono instructed his Ministers, all Government agencies, Governors, Regents and Mayors to support and coordinate closely in order to help develop Indonesian tourism. However, when measured by the number of tourism arrivals, the success of that policy is yet to be realized.

Why is it that Indonesia has been left behind as though the country has been abandoned by tourism over the past decade?

Indonesia's tourism sector has faced many challenges requiring those working in the tourism industry to work very hard to overcome the multi-dimensional challenges of terrorism, earthquakes, tsunamis, bird flu and, most recently, the extension of the European Union's ban on Indonesian aviation. That ban has particularly crippled remote areas of Indonesia dependent on tourism such as Nias, Toraja, Maluku and Papua.

In late October of 2007 the World Economic Forum (WEF) published a competitive index for tourism. That index placed Indonesia at the 60th ranking, behind Singapore at No. 8, Malaysia No. 31 and Thailand No. 43.

This is the reality that Indonesia confronts. WEF's competitive index looked beyond the mere natural beauty, cultural attractions, prices competitiveness and competitive business practice of a destination.

The WEF's measure of competitiveness was based on 12 separate criteria including rules and regulations; policies for the control and development of tour and travel activities; environmental policies; safety; cleanliness; health; the prioritization of travel and tourism in the local economy; aviation infrastructure; tourism infrastructure; information and technology infrastructure; price competitiveness; quality and dynamism of human resources; national perceptions regarding tourism; and finally natural and cultural resources. Clearly, many of these areas are outside the immediate responsibility and control of the tourism sector.

Indonesia's ranking as 60th world-wide in terms of tourism competitiveness was statistically based and also contemplated TV media perceptions, both abroad and within Indonesia, that the Country is less than safe, dirty, unhealthy, etc. all negative factors acting as disincentives for tourists considering a visit to Indonesia.

But, to be frank, in addition to external factors, there are also internal problems plaguing Indonesian tourism's ability to be globally competitive.

A closer look at the criteria which forms the basis of the WEF assessment reveals that Indonesian tourism's lethargy is grounded in the weakness of overall Destination Management and Leadership, with the Country lacking professional manpower skills at every level.

The is also an lack of clarity regarding Political Will as provided by Indonesia's Executive and Legislative branches who constantly espouse the prioritization of tourism development but provide only minimum funding support. As a result, Indonesia is unable to compete with neighboring countries possessing larger budgets for the development and promotion of tourism.

Of no less importance, is Indonesia's demonstrated poor communication skills with the rest of the world, both on a Government level and via its national media. Indonesia seldom counters accusations and negative news presented by the international media. As a result, negative and inaccurate news reports on terrorism, disease, natural disasters and aviation accidents in Indonesia are allowed to stand fostering the international perception that Indonesia is not an attractive tourism destination.

Meanwhile, the management of Indonesian tourism by the Department of Culture and Tourism has lost much of its steam through the delegation of tourism duties to Indonesia's autonomous regions, which now number around 450. These regions are apparently unprepared to accept this responsibility. For example, the destination of Lake Toba (North Sumatra) is under the supervision of no less than 8 regencies. Pramaban temple is in one regard a part of Central Java while, on another, is part of the Special District of Yogyakarta. Similarly, Mount Bromo, the Dieng Plateau and a number of other destination are being held "hostage" among a number of competing autonomous regions. Meanwhile, the regions in Indonesia are currently more interested in tourism as a source of local tax revenues and payments than in how to professionally manage a destination to meet tourists expectations and maintain global competitiveness.

From the aspect of national management of its tourism assets, the Country is currently fragmented into hundred of autonomous units providing uneven levels of service, declining product quality standards, and substandard security and safety guarantees to both domestic and international visitors.

It is therefore the duty of the Government and the House of Representatives (DPR) to reconfigure the hundreds of tourism unity into a single and very solid national tourism destination called "Indonesia" that will be able to compete internationally.

Another area prompting complaints from the Private Sector who must "sell" and "service" Indonesian tourism is the growing gulf that exists between the Government and the Private Sectors. In principle, the cooperation between Business and Government in tourism matters should be a partnership based on a synergetic Reciprocal Interdependence; a system of mutual dependence where the function of Government is to "promote" and the role of Business sector is to "sell." "Promotion" withour "selling" will be ineffective. On the other hand, "selling" is rendered problematic without "promotion."

In countries with advanced tourism industries, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Korea Reciprocal Interdependence is manifested in a single national organization set up under the laws of the respective legislature. These bodies are semi-governmental, operating as statutory bodies managed jointly by the Government and Private Sector. These toursim bodies routinely bring together expertise, functionality and combined public and private funding administered under a single, clean and professional management structure.

But in Indonesia the formulation of a semi-private or semi-government organization has been deemed illegal under the finance laws of the Country. Like it or not, the tourism budget in Indonesia is based on the limited financial ability of the Country to set aside funds for the costly promotion of tourism abroad.

Finally, and no less important, is the role of the people in developing tourism. As demonstrated in the recent Sadar Wisata campaign that emphasized safety, public order and cleanliness - these responsibilities are not the sole job of the Central Government and the Provinces. The people must also take an important role in maintaining health and environmental cleanliness, not only for the sake of tourist but for the sake of their local community as a whole. The people must always be able to derive a positive benefit from tourism development through the creation of job opportunities and i,proved standards of living.

If Indonesia seriously wishes to attract a significant number of international and domestic tourists this must be done through creating Indonesian holidays that are both safe and interesting. In addition there is a great deal of home work, public relations and socialization which must be done by leaders on the national and local level involving both the Private and Public sectors. In this way, Indonesian tourism can become more competitive in keeping with the general improvement of both the Nation's and the People's reputation and image.
_________________________
Jawawa.net: Indonesian Business and Investment News Aggregator